As Christmas quickly approaches, and everyone is losing their minds over last minute gift shopping, dinner preparations and the like, there is yet another aspect of the holiday season that most adults have no problem remembering: the bar menu. Most of us have already decided on what our holiday cocktail will be, and while many will be sipping Winter White Cosmos, Cinnamon Whiskey shooters or a bit of bubbly, my favorite Christmas dinner drink is typically a delicious glass (or 2) of red wine.
As a mother, I choose only all-natural and organic items for my son. In doing my own research for my child, I have also learned quite a bit about my own health and well-being, and I was surprised to find out just how good and good for you organic wine is (in comparison to the conventional variety). Do I still indulge in non-organic wines every so often? Yes… but the more I learn and taste different organic wines, the more I opt for them when choosing a bottle at the store.
I personally enjoy a good bottle of organic wine because I am a part of a small percentage of people who have a genuine sensitivity to the sulfites. I tend to get extra flushed in the face after even a sip of wine, and sometimes even break out in hives. Not the most attractive, or comfortable, reaction to my favorite alcoholic indulgence. All wine contains a certain amount of naturally occurring sulfites, but those that have no purposely added sulfites are simply better for my skin and are simply more natural.
I understand that most people tend to worry over the sulfites in wine, when what truly needs to be conveyed is that conventional grapes are among the most heavily sprayed of all agricultural crops. According to IntoWine.com, as many as 18 different chemicals are used on non-organically grown grape crops during their growing cycle – not good. Not good for the soil. Not good for the previously clean water. Not good for biodiversity. Not. Good. For. Your. Body.
Here are some of the most beneficial reasons to drink organic wines over the latter:
- No pesticides or fertilizers used in the growing process of the grapes
- No animal gelatin fillers (yeah, you read that right… gelatin made from the boiling of animal bones and other parts. But we aren’t done here… read on…)
- No blood or bone marrow, chitin, casein, fish oil or isinglass fining agents
- No added sulfites – makes for a more natural wine
When shopping for organic wine, remember to keep this in mind: Not all organic wines are created equal. Wine producers are allowed to put “organic” on their label as long as 90% of the materials that have gone into the wine are in fact organic. What this means is that a vineyard may be using all organic grapes, but the additives and such that is thrown in during the grape growing or bottling phases may not be… as long as it makes up less than 10%. Ridiculous, right? Just be sure that when you are shopping for an organic wine variety, to look for the USDA Certified Organic mark or buy a bottle that is 100% Organic, meaning no pesticides, additives or fillers have been used in the making or bottling of your wine.
Red wine is definitely my sister and I’s preference when it comes to grape choice. If you are the same as us, and you are looking for a good bottle (or 3) of organic red wine, check out our favorites below to share with your loved ones this Christmas season
1.Stellar Organics | 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon | South Africa
This Organic Cabernet is quite subtle on the tongue, and is an easy, drinkable wine. Stellar Organics is Integrity and Sustainability Certified, as well as being Eco-Fair Trade. They do not add any unnatural sulfites to their blends, and are a great group overall – sharing profit within their community.
2. Pacific Redwood | 2014 Mendocino Pinot Noir | Redwood Valley, California
This brand of organic grape was the very first my husband and I tried. We originally purchased the cabernet, I believe, and in the beginning I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. As the wine sat and opened up, however, I liked it more and more. This Pinot Noir was a different story – same happy ending. It was great from start to finish, easily drinkable, and was a hit from sip one. Pacific Redwood adds no sulfites, and not only do they use organic grapes, but they promise an organically processed finished product: no synthetic preservatives and only organic grapes. Wonderful. Delicious. Trust me.
3. Frey | 2013 Mendocino Zinfandel | Redwood Valley, California
No added Sulfites. No GMO Yeast added. No preservatives. Frey Vineyards is a favorite on my list of certified organic companies. This blend is one that pairs well with a great charcuterie plate or a nice steak, in my opinion. See more on Frey below… but take my word, they mean organic business.
4. Frey | 2013 Mendocino Field Blend – Biodynamic Red Wine | Redwood Valley, California
This Zinfandel has a great spicy flavor that isn’t too pungent on the tongue. The flavor tends to strike fast, and quietly melts away as you swallow every sip. As you can see, we have two bottles from Frey Vineyards, and for very good reason. They have a great variety of certified organic wines – these two just happen to be a bit higher on our list of favorites 🙂 A very neat fact about Frey’s Biodynamic vineyards, which are nested right in the heart of their ranch, is that they rely on biodiversity in the soil to nourish their grapevines. You know that when a vineyard relies on the simultaneously growing organic wheat, the sheep and goats in a nearby pasture, and the native flora that attracts beneficial insects for all their crops that this company is one that truly knows the meaning of organic goodness – no pesticides or preservatives, ever.
I do also have a few favorite “Made with Organic Grapes” wines also- these not being USDA Certified Organic, but still made with 90% organic materials. They are the following:
- Bonterra | 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon | 91 Consumer Points! You can find this at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s!
- alex elman | 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon | Mendoza, Argentina
- Cono Sur | 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah blend | Chile
I purchase all of these bottles at my local Whole Foods grocery store, and what’s even better is that they are often on sale and usually under the $20 price point! Even busy mommies deserve a nice glass of wine every so often (every night… let’s get serious). If you are interested in delving into the organic wine varieties, check out some of these vineyards for a delightful Christmas cocktail! Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy!